Malawi’s international mountain trail race specialist, Edson Kumwamba, who left on on December 7 for Dubai to participate in the Al Marmoom Ultra-marathon, which is dubbed the world’s longest desert ultra-run at 270km, was asked by the country’s Sports Council secretary general, Saeed Mohammad Hareb, to speak at a special gathering of all participating athletes from around the world.
Kumwamba said Mohammad Hareb, who is also son the United Arab Emirates’ King, approached him during the event organized for the hosts to interact with the participants and told Kumwamba that he had recognized him from pictures of him that were posted on Dubai Sports Council instagram.
“So he came over and ‘hi, I saw you on instagram. Which country in africa are you from?’ and I told him he said there are two others from Africa from Morocco.
“Then he asked me to speak to the gathering about our experiences in Malawi and what was my reaction when I received the invitation to participate in the ultra-marathon.
“They were so glad that we have the Mulanje Porters Race but the serious athletes wished it was more than the 24km so that they could come and participate. It was a good experience interacting with runners from all over the world.”
“My participation here can put Malawi on the map, not only in Dubai but also to the world because we elite runners here from around the world, who can market us out there.
“Dubai is very serious with sports like just yesterday (Saturday) there there were almost 17 events, all on sports. And Mohammad Hareb himself is also good in cycling. He told me he won a cycling race call Ironman.
“Dubai is all into sports and I am talking of all kinds of sports and the Dubai government do take part on all the events to make sure all international athletes are in good hospitality,” he said.
He said they leave Monday for the desert base camp which is 130km away from the city and that the race venue is just 500m away from the King’s house. It is private desert owned by the King himself.
Originally, Kumwamba was training in Mulanje since September for the 100km Ultra Trail Cape Town race to take place on December 1 using the Porters Race course and during the course of his training he met some tourists from Safari Tours who got interested and together they organised a race using the 24km Porters course.
He said some of the tourist were from Dubai who were impressed with his performance and after learning that he is ranked 4th in Africa, they invited him for the Al Marmoom Ultramarathon.
So he decided to skip out the Cape Town mountain trail race because they were too close to each other since after December 1 event he had to travel back to Malawi by bus, arrive on 4th then without resting depart on the 7th for Dubai via Addis Ababa.
As part of his training, Kumwamba also participated in the 42.2km Blantyre Marathon that was organized by Malawi National Council of Sports and he said he was satisfied with his time of 2:50:53hrs, which was 23:43 minutes behind the champion, Ndacha Happy Nchelenje in a time of 2:27:10.
This was his first-ever long road race and he said he was satisfied with his performance as he has gained so much experience to be used for the next marathon that might come his way.
On September 1, Kumwamba came second in 44km Table Mountain Challenge in South Africa in a time of 4hrs 41min 23secs in which there were 440 runners and the winner was a Zimbabwean, Bernard Rukadza — his most adversary.
Some of the races he has been on the podium for include: Ultra Trail Capetown 100km, Jongershoek Mountain Challenge 38km, Puffer 80Km, Mont Blanc 90km (France), Mulanje Porters Race 24km, Marloth Mountain Challenge 55km, Batrun 30km, Table Mountain Challenge 44km, Dryland Traverse 110km and Salomon Bastille Day 35km.
He was born in Nchathu Village, Traditional Authority Nkanda in Mulanje District and became interested to become an athlete when he was just nine years old when his mother used to take him to watch the Mulanje Porters Race.
After doing his studies at DAPP vocational school in welding and fabrication, he left Malawi in 2002 for greener pastures in South Africa and since he still had the passion for running, he joined the trail racing club there where he rose to prominence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :